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Posts Tagged ‘Dr. Martin McCaffrey’

Heart stethPro-lifers across the nation have been reading our series of articles on the “Faces & Facts of Simon’s Law,” and are urging Kansas to protect children and empower parents by enacting this vital measure.

The state legislature returns to work Wednesday following a short recess. The Kansas Senate has already passed SB 437, Simon’s Law, by a notable bipartisan 37-3 vote last month. The bill will prevent minors from being denied life-sustaining treatment without parental permission and will require, upon request, disclosure of hospital policies on “futile care.”

Recently, four medical associations have published their strong support for Simon’s Law, see here. The following are some excerpts from their endorsements:

  • ACPEDSThe American College of Pediatricians informs that, “Once inconceivable, the practice of hospital staff placing a do not resuscitate (DNR) order on a child’s chart without the informed consent of the child’s parents or legal guardian is on the rise… increasingly predicated upon the ill-defined and subjective concept of ‘quality of life’ with one or more disabilities considered intolerable.”
  • AAPSThe Association of American Physicians & Surgeons writes, “care judged by some to be ‘futile’ is often life-saving, even if it does not restore full function… [When] there is a time when medical intervention provides no benefit, it is unethical and should be unlawful for a medical facility to determine that point unilaterally.”
  • NAPNThe National Association of Prolife Nurses asserts that parents have “a right to full disclosure and participation in the healthcare decisions of their disabled or severely ill children.”
  • The Kansas City (Kansas/Missouri) Guild of the Catholic Medical Association believes Simon’s Law “recognizes the right practice of medicine… the sacredness of life and the primary role Cath guildparents have in caring for a child. [F]acilities or practitioners cannot and should not determine that a patient’s life is no longer deserving of medical care.”

These medical group endorsements acknowledge that DNRs are very often being issued due to negative judgments about the kind of life the child will live—not upon a medical assessment of impending death. In shorthand, such judgments about ‘futility’ are qualitative, not physiological.

The families that submitted testimony for Simon’s Law recounted that too many medical personnel clearly viewed their child as a victim of disabilities, without a rewarding life–a view that the family vigorously disputed.

Neonatologist McCaffrey

Dr. McCaffrey

Neonatologist Martin McCaffrey regularly treats severely ill infants and counsels many families about Trisomy 18 and other related chromosomal conditions. He advises:

“ A medical team using its subjective prediction of future quality of life as criteria to make life and death decisions,and  forcing that determination is a tyrannical enforcement of prejudice towards children with disabilities.

The case which prompted Simon’s Law legislation is a prime example of such bias.

It is my sincere hope that Simon’s Law will pass. The only physicians and hospitals that would be impacted by this legislation are those employing unilateral [orders not to resuscitate].”

Knowledgeable medical groups and individuals agree that Simon’s Law is a necessary corrective measure.

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Krissy Krotzer

Krissy Krotzer

Simon’s Law insures that life-sustaining treatment (resuscitation, nutrition, medicine) will not be denied to minors without parental consent. This bill has already passed the Kansas Senate 37-3 and work on its passage in the House will continue when legislators return April 27.

The testimony for Simon’s Law in Kansas documented a consistent medical bias toward children with chromosomal disorders. Researchers and parents described how these children were denied scheduled surgeries after their genetic conditions were verified. Furthermore, they were denied treatment to save their lives after DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) orders were secretly placed on their medical charts.

The prevailing medical viewpoint on children with trisomy conditions is almost uniformly negative, essentially recommending provision of comfort care only. Kansas legislators learned that families of these children often had to fight for their child’s life both before birth, when being urged to abort, and after delivery, when physicians refused requested interventions.

Dr. Martin McCaffrey is a pro-life neonatologist with over 20 years in this arena. He supports Simon’s Law with this perspective: It is shocking that the neonatal community in the United States has reached a point where a significant number of providers feel it is justified to place a unilateral Do Not Resuscitate [or attempt resuscitation] order on a child’s chart, based on a neurologic prognosis which parents are perfectly willing to accept, but the medical team does not.”

Consider the stresses imposed by the medical community on the family of Kristina (Krissy) Krotzer. Her mother, Terre, writes:

“Our daughter Kristina was diagnosed prenatally with Trisomy 18. At the time they confirmed the diagnosis via amniocentesis they let us know that although we were at 22 weeks it would still be acceptable to “interrupt” the pregnancy, i.e., terminate, because the fetus was still smaller than a typical “20 week fetus” but we would need to decide quickly. We declined.

Later in our pregnancy we began preparing for our daughter’s birth. In our discussion with the doctors we were very clear that we would do whatever it took to get our daughter into this world alive. We didn’t know how much time we would get but it was important to us to give her life if at all possible.

The doctor refused to consider c-section as she said it was a non-viable pregnancy and even refused to monitor my daughter during labor because, and I quote, “I don’t want you to know if she dies or not.” 

This doctor was fired.

A new doctor agreed to the c-section if necessary. We scheduled a day to induce (at 39 weeks) so that this doctor would be guaranteed to be there as he was the only one we trusted to give our daughter a chance.

We were very clear that our birth plan was to get her into this world alive and from there decide –based on her actual overall health and medical needs– what to do each step of the way. Never could anyone have interpreted our desires to include a Do Not Resuscitate order.

Labor began and our baby’s heart rate dropped with each contraction. It was decided a C-section was necessary. Our daughter was born soon after. She presented with Apgar scores of 5 and 8 and needed only a small amount of “blow by” oxygen. We spent time together and she was taken to the intermediate care NICU for more evaluation and monitoring. She did fine, and we went home 5 days later with our tiny 3lb. 8oz. little girl.

Krissy 16th bday

Krissy’s 16th birthday

Today Krissy is 16 years old and a sophomore in high school. While she’s had a handful of medical issues, Kristina has done well.

Four years ago I was looking through the medical records from Kristina’s birth and found that– unbeknownst to us– the hospital had placed a DNR on Kristina prior to her birth.

This DNR was not our choice or decision and if I hadn’t looked back at the  records, we never would have known. To this day, every time Kristina is hospitalized we get challenged over the fact that we have her listed as a full  code.

We were once told by a physician, ‘you’ve had 10 good years with her, isn’t that enough?’

Krissy has a happy, healthy, full quality of life. When that changes, our decisions might change. But either way it should always be our choice.”

Terre Krotzer expresses the sentiment of many families who testified in support of Simon’s Law. Just imagine how you’d react to doctors who think your child has lived long enough. Imagine having to constantly fear that medical personnel might refuse to sustain the life of your child.

That’s the fear and apprehension that Simon’s Law will allay.

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